The liberal watchdog organization Common Cause is blasting President Obama for agreeing to headline a conference being held by his former campaign-turned advocacy group, Organizing For Action.
Obama will speak tonight at an OFA dinner in downtown D.C., where wealthy donors who paid top dollar will be in attendance.
The White House says there’s really no difference between OFA and other political fundraising groups like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But Common Cause President Bob Edgar disagrees:
“Those groups are all highly regulated as partisan political organizations,” he said in a statement today. “OFA is designed to avoid the disclosure and contribution regulations that those groups have in order to prevent corruption.”
Obama came under fire last week after The New York Times reported that OFA had promised meetings with the president to donors who contribute $50,000 or more to the group.
“Political parties aren’t allowed to accept $50,000 from a single donor, and Organizing for Action shouldn’t either,” Edgar said.
Obama’s chief spokesman, Jay Carney, knocked down that report, insisting that access to Obama is simply not for sale.
Back in 1972, Common Cause sued former President Richard Nixon’s (R) Committee to Re-Elect the President over its failure to disclose the identity of its donors. Now, Edgar wants OFA to do the same.
“Organizing for Action has promised to disclose its donors on a quarterly basis, but that is not enough,” Edgar said. “Whether it’s Nixon selling ambassador posts, Clinton selling a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, or Bush selling black-tie dinners at the White House, selling access to the Presidency is just plain wrong and courts corruption. President Obama should put an end to this unsavory practice, not perpetuate it.”
The president’s prepared remarks tonight will be open to a handful of pooled reporters, but a likely question-and-answer session to follow will be closed to the press.